Conventicle of the Great Tree
Worship: A clearing within an ancient oak forest is the favored worship spot for the Brotherhood. These are difficult for non-worshippers to access due to overgrown and thorn-riddled paths guarded by treants or grizzly bears.
Weekly services revolve around singing the songs of the Old Oak and discussing any infringement civilization is making on the untamed lands. The welfare of tribal societies like wild elves or the Defohy (a human Dejy tribe) is discussed as well. Services are short and to the point; many worshippers prefer to be alone and do not care for the communal aspect of worship that makes other faiths popular.
Since the numbers of worshipers of the Bear have never been as low as they are currently, the Mighty Oak is attempting to cement informal alliances with the Assembly of the Four Corners and the Temple of the Patient Arrow. To this end, all clerics of the Bear have been instructed to grant the broadest possible latitude to members of these faiths, and to highlight to them every instance of the unjust spread of civilization into the natural world.
Holy Symbol: A huge oak tree.
Holy Days: Once a month, each worshipper is required to plant the seed of a tree. Worshippers plant different trees for different needs, like saying different prayers. Sick worshippers might plant the oak, known for its strength and longevity. New parents plant a pine, hoping their child grows tall and wise.
During the summer and winter solstice, worshippers gather to plant oaks where old ones have died or where nature has been lost. The faith teaches that if the right prayers are said a dryad appears to protect the tree. The gatherings at the solstices can be quite a spectacle, since fey creatures of any kind might show up for the services.
Holy Colors: Green and brown.
Holy Animal: Quite naturally, the holy animal of the Brotherhood of the Bear is a bear (black, brown or polar, depending upon region).
Raiment: Many worshippers of the god of nature are druids, though clerics are also quite common. Their places of worship are all outdoors, thus their choice of attire tends to be earthy brown and green robes of sturdy material. Brothers of the Bear sometimes wear jewelry made from natural items, such as acorn rings or bracelets woven from fallen twigs.
Except in the rare small communities that have embraced the teachings of the Conventicle, the followers and servants of the Brotherhood of the Bear live in open wilderness. When a Brother of the Bear gains followers through advancement in rank, they tend to take up residence near the dwelling of the cleric, but far enough away that they do not become a burden on the local flora and fauna.
Advancement: Advancement within the Conventicle of the Great Tree occurs by protecting nature from the harm of civilization and keeping forests free of dangerous influences. Brothers of the Bear do not gain cash for their stipends, instead gaining natural products and services from allies and neighbors of equal value to the standard stipend.
Sprouts must have at least 5 ranks in Knowledge (nature).
Saplings must have at least 10 ranks in Knowledge (nature).
A Great Oak’s second follower is a ranger. With the DM’s permission, the Great Oak might instead gain a druid who follows the faith of the Bear rather than the normal druidic religion. Such druids are not common, but make powerful servants of the church.
Sacrifices: Brothers of the Bear must plant tree seedlings once per month.
Most temples of the Conventicle of the Great Tree are not built. Instead, they are groves of trees and bushes that have been guided into a useful position as they grew. Hedges form walls, tree branches meet overhead to form a roof, and thick grass forms a floor. A stream is almost always nearby and might even run through the worship area.
This faith is one in which a cathedral primarily represents the attention of a large number of worshippers rather than the center of a regional leadership. Cathedrals often include exotic creatures as worshippers or clerics, including treants, centaurs, and at least one water naga. These creatures come to the worship of the Conventicle of the Great Tree because it caters to their privacy, and their participation varies by individual. Some are content to sit through service as (socially) invisibly as possible, while others want to be closely involved with fellow worshippers.
The Conventicle of the Great Tree has no holy seat. The Mighty Oak, currently one Darnygyr the Green, roams from temple to temple, sharing his wisdom as he goes. Darnygyr’s pilgrimage numbers some two dozen lesser clerics and about 80 faithful individuals who follow his teachings. Darnygyr is growing very old, and he travels slowly. In fact, rumor says that he might never leave Unvolen, again.
|Friends and Allies:|
|The Assembly of the Four Corners: “The elements are a part of the nature that we love. They are the bedrock, the breath, the drink and the time of death and rebirth…"|
|The Church of the Life’s Fire: “To help life in all forms to develop is a great cause, as long as they focus on nature…”|
|The Face of the Free: “The freedom of people is like the freedom of nature. The more free a person is, the closer to nature they may become…”|
|The Temple of the Patient Arrow: “They understand the value of nature, but they still seek to control it, rather than allowing it to grow stronger.”|
|Foes and Enemies:|
|The Founder’s Creation: “Incursions on our land, taking trees to build buildings, spreading the urban sprawl… These are evil things indeed.”|
|The Parish of the Prolific Coin: “Harvesters and rapists! They destroy the land in order to sell it for profit.”|
|The Conventicle of Affliction: “Disease spreads in nature, but they seek to tip the balance of nature toward death. They understand nothing of life, only death…”|
|The Temple of Strife: “Strife causes destruction, both of civilized lands and wild terrain.”|
|The Home Foundation: “They seek to bind all life to themselves. They harvest and control all the lives they maintain.”|